Monday, June 30, 2014

If You Only Read One Blog Post This Summer... should definitely not be this one.  But since you're already here, read on, my pretties, read on.

I think I might be dying of boredom.  The summer of fun has quickly dissolved into just summer.  Mike has been working long hours lately and the days are stretching into oblivion.  Since Option A for summer activities usually requires applying gallons of sunscreen onto millions of children and shielding the wee one from the heat and searing sunlight, I usually choose Option B: stare blankly at the wall while the kids go all Lord of the Flies in the basement.  Today there was a wedding ceremony in which my 8 year old son dressed up as the bride and was betrothed to the 3 year old girl that I babysit, who was serving as the groom.  My 10 year old officiated the ceremony, and, as I told the groom's parents, she spent some time on the computer this morning so she could be an ordained minister for all I know.  There was also a 4 year old witness.  The whole thing could be a legal union.  Who knows?  Here's the video they made, in case you want to watch the nuptials. 

And my one hobby, shaking my booty on the Jazzercise dance floor, is being put on hold because of a stupid back injury.  How will I occupy my time if I can't dance appropriately to Pit Bull in a choreographed setting?  Sigh. 

In other news, Reece is keeping himself busy.  Today during "nap" he thought it would be a good idea to put on nine shirts at the same time.  He got himself stuck and my mom had to get the jaws of life to remove him.  He also drew with chalk pastels on the couch cushions and filled up gallon-sized storage bags with water while he was supposed to be cleaning.  See what I mean?  Lord of the Flies. 
And I still let the juvenile delinquent help me make and eat caramel popcorn after dinner.  Color me a pushover. 

And the computer keeps telling me that my anti-virus program has expired.  But it's been warning me for so long that here is the message I get now: "There is practically nothing standing between you and criminals!"  Life on the edge, I tell you.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Winning Summer

Well, summer is finally in full swing!  Huzzah!  I love all the summer things...I think it is a hold over from my years as a student and a teacher.  As the heat and the children's attitudes rise, I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon and share how we will be surviving all the hours of togetherness.

First thing first: Chores.  The three biggest kids each have a daily chore chart to complete.  This is old news to everyone, I'm sure.  But my greatest chore invention is "Chore of the Day."  There is a chore on their chart labeled Chore of the Day.  They have to check the dry erase board to see what their C.O.T.D. is.  This is great for multiple reasons.  First, it allows me to choose what really needs to be done today, as opposed to setting up a rotation that stays the same each week.  Second, the kids kind of like it.  Andrew said, "Mom!  Chore of the day is fun!  It's like a mystery!"  Emma, on the other hand, is hit or miss.  In fact, I think the number of times I hear "I hate my parents" followed by three door slams is directly related to Chore of the Day.  What can I say?  I'm in the running for mother of the year.

Today's chores.  No slammed doors for this one, don't ask me why.
Next: Screen Time limits.  Obviously.  I am not winning any awards for creativity, here.  Just telling it like it is.

And: Teaching life skills.  My kids are dying to learn to sew.  So am I.  So, I started teaching them the basics, and now after two lessons, I'm pretty sure they know more than I do.  We bought some fun fabric remnants from a friend (thanks, LS!) and they are getting all Martha Stewart on me.  Little do they know I am going to make them sew their own school clothes this year...

We are also cooking a little.  The kids love to get in the way help in the kitchen, so I often let them choose a dinner and then we work together to cook.  One day I let Emma come up with a recipe all her own.  It was called "Ramen Noodle Stew."  You can imagine for yourself how delicious that one was.  Too bad I accidentally lost the recipe.  We'll have to choose another one for our Culinary Schools of America application. 

Check back here soon!  As summer marches on I'm sure we will be churning our own butter and singing Kumbaya by the light of our own solar-harvested electricity.  (Can you do that?  Only time will tell.)

Andrew with his home-sewn wallet.  His own creation!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hobby Schlobby

I need a hobby.  Or at least I think I should have one.  These days, I spend most of my time waffling between bored-out-of-my-skull-if-I-have-to-read-hop-on-pop-one-more-time-I'll-lose-my-mind and totally overstimulated by all the activities, noise, and craziness that I love about my kids.  Perhaps a real hobby would be just the refreshment and mental stimulation that I need.

Here are my current not-real hobbies: checking Facebook, checking Instagram, reading blogs on my phone, checking my email, pinning things on Pinterest that I will never do, watching the Bachelorette, stalking Jimmy Fallon, and cooking food that my children will not eat. 

Let's explore some other options.  Anything I choose as a real hobby must adhere to the following standards:

1. It must be cheap.  Above all else.
2. It must be quick to start and stop.  I have to be able to drop it at a moment's notice when a small person has put poop in a place it shouldn't be or is painting the furniture or something.
3. I should like it.
4. It shouldn't take up too much space.  I cannot devote an entire room to my love of taxidermy or furniture re-upholstery.

So here are the things I'm considering--let's see how they measure up:

1. Sewing.  This is a good option.  However, it is not really cheap.  It can be, I suppose, depending on how you do it.  It's not always quick to start and stop, but it's not the worst.  I think the hardest part about sewing is that I'm not good at it.  I have only ever sewn three things in my life, and I just did those last fall.  The three things I made were all basically rectangles, and it still took me over a million hours.  And I spent a good portion of my "sewing" time breaking needles, losing thread, and teaching my children four-letter words.
I made this.  It is basically a giant rectangle with some small rectangles and buttons attached to it.  It took me 26,000 days and an equal number of tears to finish it. 

I made that crib sheet.  I also made that cute baby...not with my sewing machine, to clarify.
2. Reading.  Also good.  Cheap, if you use the library which I do.  Quick to start and stop.  No space requirements and I like it!  It also makes me tired.  So I read for a few minutes and then I can't do it anymore.  Which leads me to my next hobby candidate:

3. Napping.  Too bad I have a curse which does not allow me to actually fall asleep during the day, no matter how tired I may be.

4. Blogging.  Cheap?  Check.  Quick?  Check.  Fun?  Check.  Good for small spaces?  Check.  But if it is my only real hobby, then what will I ever have to write about?  I just have to wait for my kids to do something insane and then chronicle it.  With four of them, there's a good chance that will happen sooner rather than later, but still.

Hobbies are hard to find and do with kids around.  Inevitably, I get started on something and someone has their pants stuck on their head or they've locked themselves in the van with the keys inside. that I think of it, maybe that would be a good time to get some hobbying done. 

Hang on.  I think I hear them honking. 

Monday, June 16, 2014


Remember to keep holy the sabbath day.
                                                            --Exodus 20:8
Of all the commandments, keeping holy the Sabbath is not one that I usually worry too much about.  I mean, I go to church, religiously (ha!).  We never miss a Sunday unless I am in the hospital with a new tiny human or one of the older tiny humans is puking their guts out.  But it occurred to me this weekend that I might need to take a second look.  

Let me break it down for you.  This is what happens every week:  Cookcleanfeeddisciplinediaperchaufferplaywithkids...rinse and repeat.  Saturday comes, and I turn into a jerk.  Sunday comes, we go to church, and then I turn into a holy jerk.  Usually this is because I am looking for some help around the house, and since Mike is home, I feel like the weekend is the best time to get all the things done.  And because by that time in the week, I feel like I am on a never ending merry-go-round of housework and I just want to get off!    But I also feel like I am falling into the pit of despair when my house looks like this: 

Every flat surface in my house.

Anyway.  If you read the commandment more thoroughly, this is what it says:

Remember to keep holy the sabbath day.  Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord, your God.  No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave, or your beast, or by the alien who lives with you.  In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested.
                                                                               Exodus 20:8-11

Now, I do not own an alien or slaves.  Darn the luck.  And the beasts that live at my house are worthless unless you count eating food directly off of the table as a helpful skill.  But the rest of that passage might be worth considering.  So yesterday, I sorta tried to keep the sabbath holy and to actually take some time to rest.  I did not order my family around like troops, barking commands about what needed to be cleaned or making them do pushups for failure to comply.  I did only the chores that really had to be done at the moment.  I spent a few minutes reading, sitting, working on a project that I had been wanting to accomplish.  We celebrated Father's day with a laid back dinner at my in-laws house.  And at the end of the day, I felt a little better about things.  I felt a little less like a jerk, and a little more like myself.  My house might be worse for the wear come Monday morning, but we'll manage I suppose.  

Perhaps this week I will try to acquire an alien or a useful beast. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Age of Unreason

Blog, old friend.  I've missed you...let's get back together.

Before you read anything I write here or heed any advice I will ever offer, consider this little exchange:

Mike:  Reece, what letter does "mom" start with?  Mmm-mm-mm-mom?

Reece: 10!

So, obviously, we are winning at parenting.

I find myself longing for the day in which my four year old reaches the age of reason.  A day when I will say, "No, you can't take your pants off in the middle of the Target grocery section" and I might be greeted with a rational response like "Ok, mom."  Or better yet, I don't even have to say it in the first place!  Or maybe a time when he asks for something, I give it to him, and that's drama.  Instead, here's how it usually plays out: He asks for something like candy.  I acquiesce, but foolishly (c'mon woman, this ain't your first rodeo) unwrap said candy, opening not only the candy, but also a Pandora's box of tantrum.  By the end of the day (or hour) we're both crying in the corner and stuffing our faces with candy.  

It is a daily battle of trying to get him to learn some skills and follow directions without causing a nuclear meltdown.  Here's another example:  To tell my children past the age of reason to put their shoes on, I only have to say that..."Put your shoes on."  

Here's how it goes with a child at the age of unreason: 

Me: Put your shoes on please, it's time to go.
Reece: (wailing) I caaaaaaaaan't doooooo it!  My socks are too bumpy!
Me: You can do it.  You do it every day.  You just have to try.
Reece: Well, well, well, I don't know which foot.
Me: I'll show you.  (Arranges shoes properly)
Reece: My arms are too short.  My back is too hot.  I'm hungry.  I'm thirsty.  I don't like shoes.  I can't put them on when it's Tuesday.  I want Daddy.  I want Andrew.  I want to wear crocs.
Me: Ok.  Get your crocs then.
Reece: Well, well, well my crocs hurt my feet!
Me: Then put on your tennis shoes and let's go!  We are going to be late!  Don't you want to beat Andrew to the car?
Reece: Oh yeah!  (Races to put his shoes on)
(Andrew beats him)
Reece: (wailing) Andrew beeeeeaaat meeeee!  (Takes his shoes off and throws them across the room)

Forever and ever until the end of time.  And this is for everything all day long!  Shoes, clothes, nap, breakfast, lunch, dinner, happy hour, etc.  If you have ever had a child at the age of unreason, then you will understand.  You will know that you must offer options, choices, pep talks, consequences, and prayers for virtually every daily activity.

But what happens when an unsuspecting citizen of the kid-less population encounters this species of child?  Let me paint the picture...

There we were, enjoying the "Hogsmeade Carnival," a Harry Potter-style children's carnival and fundraiser at the local high school.  It was all very magical.  Fake British accents abounded.  We marveled at the Quidditch Pitch, the Whomping Willow, and even the girl with a real live rat on her shoulder.  

Reece desperately wanted to play this silly game where the girl puts a goblet in a box, closes the curtain, and then you wave your wand to turn it into a stuffed animal.  So we got in line, unsuspecting fools that we were.  This might as well have been a game where Dementors took your money and then sucked out your soul for as well as it went over.  The girl put the goblet in the box, closed the curtain, and then asked Reece to wave his wand and say some phrase in Latin.  If you've ever seen Reece in a conversation with a stranger, you are lying because he doesn't talk to people he doesn't know.  And certainly not in Latin.

So I said, "It's okay!  Daddy will say it for you."
And girl who has never met a shy kid says, "No.  He has to say it.  It's his wand."

There was a little back and forth between us, but she refused to let one of the adults say it.  Because it's his wand.  Because Harry Potter and magic is real.  Because we didn't just spray glitter on a stick five seconds ago at the table across the room.  Because she really goes to Hogwarts and speaks with a British accent.  

We'll skip the rest of the pleasantries that followed and you can just use your imagination.  Meanwhile, Reece is sobbing loudly on Mike's shoulder and I am fuming about how ridiculous the whole exchange is.  (In her defense, she did come up to us and halfway apologize just as we were leaving.  She gave him an elephant toy and said, "Look what you made!"  And he stared at her with distrust in his eyes.)

So if you are not accustomed to interacting with children at the age of unreason, I suggest you just throw some candy in their general direction (and some for their parents) and do not make eye contact.  Wear bells and talk in loud voices so they can hear you coming too.  Or maybe that's bears.  I don't even know anymore.  

An unrelated pic of my boys...all looking very reasonable  Do not be fooled.